If you’re like me you get inspired when you listen to a true leader speak about their experiences as a leader. Retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell has always been someone whose leadership style and actions inspire me. He recently spoke at the American Wind and Energy Association (AWEA) Fall Symposium and I thought I would share some of his wisdom with you.
Amid a string of stories about his decades of service to his country, Powell shared his ideas of true leadership. Below are some of his key points:
- Leaders exist to give followers what they need to get their job done. It is the followers who go into battle and accomplish the tasks assigned.
- The most important part of leadership is instilling trust in those you command. If you have their trust, they will follow you anywhere. “Every human endeavor has leaders and followers, and your job as a leader is to inspire,” he said.
- Leadership begins with goals. When the followers know what the goals are, everyone understands the importance of their own role for the common purpose.
- People want to know that you are serving a greater purpose than just your own. “Increasingly, our people want to see leaders who are respected, leaders who are selfless,” Powell said.
- Express appreciation. Make sure that those under your command understand that you appreciate what they are doing, Powell said. While serving as secretary of state, Powell said, he let people know he appreciated their work through personal visits and thank-you cards.
- Solve problems. A leader also needs to recognize when someone is not performing well. It is a leader’s job to identify the source of the problem, and fix it. “Leadership is problem-solving, and you are expected as leaders to know what’s going on throughout your organization,” he said.